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J Adv Nurs. 2009 Aug;65(8):1570-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.05044.x. Epub 2009 Jun 1.

Non-psychiatric hospitalization of people with mental illness: systematic review.

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School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin, USA.



This paper is a report of a literature review of the evidence regarding outcomes experienced by severely mentally ill individuals hospitalized in general medical-surgical settings for non-psychiatric conditions.


Severely mentally ill individuals experience chronic medical illnesses at a rate greater than the general population. When hospitalized in non-psychiatric settings, they tend to be experienced as 'difficult' by nurses and to have longer lengths of stay.


The CINAHL and PUBMED databases were searched from 1 to 9 March 2008 to identify studies published between 1998 and 2008 investigating outcomes among people with mental illness hospitalized for non-psychiatric illness in general hospitals.


Included studies were those published in English in peer reviewed journals and investigating patient outcomes. The studies were reviewed for relevance and inclusion criteria; the methodological quality of studies was not evaluated.


Twelve studies met inclusion criteria. All studies examining length of stay, costs of care or resource utilization showed increased measures for patients with psychiatric comorbidity. Interventions described included psychiatric liaison psychiatry and nursing, which failed to demonstrate improvement in outcomes.


Nurses play a pivotal role in improving the inpatient care of this vulnerable population, but they struggle in their attempts to do so. Research to determine the best approaches to promote nurses' knowledge, positive attitudes and self-confidence in caring for patients with psychiatric comorbidity is needed. Investigation of the patient perspective on the inpatient experience might also provide insight for designing effective care processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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